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IDIA and the NRAO have signed a MoU to collaborate on the development of algorithms and software for the processing of radio data, in anticipation of the large surveys that will be conducted by the MeerKAT and the Jansky VLA.
MeerKAT and the JVLA are precursors of the SKA, and the large surveys that will be done with these telescopes will pave the way to the science observations that the SKA will conduct. These large surveys include pilot observations with the VLA and early science observations with MeerKAT sub-arrays, and will provide the ideal proving ground for the efficacy and efficiency of calibration and imaging algorithms.
Both telescopes will conduct deep surveys with large bandwidths, with high resolution and exquisite sensitivity. These surveys will necessarily produce an enormous amount of raw data, which will have to be carefully calibrated in order to realize the full scientific yield possible.
Many advanced techniques will be required to calibrate the MeerKAT data - techniques that have hitherto only been necessary for the minority of high dynamic-range/fidelity imaging. The use of these techniques will be part-and-parcel of the standard calibration framework with the JVLA and MeerKAT. It is therefore essential that we develop highly efficient, scalable implementations of these algorithms, and this will be the focal point of the IDIA/NRAO collaboration - to develop, test and deploy implementations on a high-performance big-data infrastructure.
In practice, researchers from both IDIA and the NRAO will work on various aspects of the software development. Much of the collaboration will concentrate on the CASA software package, and includes the development of new algorithms and the streamlining of existing software to exploit the inherent parallelism that is possible with radio data. The IDIA computing cluster will be used for much of this collaboration, and a CASA developmental environment has been setup on the ARC.
IDIA will further invest human-capacity in the form of software developers and postdoctoral fellows, who will work on the technical development and scientific implementation of the new algorithms.